Posts Tagged 'spinach'

Lamb Saag

Indian Spices

This recipe is more or less Rick Stein’s Lamb & Spinach Karahi recipe, but I’ve simplified the recipe slightly and radically adjusted the amount of ghee/oil required. There is absolutely no sense in using 250g pure fat simply to fry half a kilo of onions. It’s crazy!

I’ve also added some dried fenugreek – it gives a great background flavour and is so typical of Indian curries.

As well as having a great flavour, this curry has a vivid green colour and makes a great visual contrast to “red” curries such as Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh or Butter Chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg diced lamb
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 12 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli powder, sweet paprika, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 300g spinach leaves
  • 4 medium-sized green chillies, stalks removed & roughly chopped

Method

  1. Place a cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook the onions gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  2. Blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  3. Put the casserole back on the heat. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced lamb, chicken stock and the ground spices. Stir to combine. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  4. Just before the lamb is finished cooking, make the spinach puree. Put 200g of the spinach leaves in a large saucepan along with a splash of water. Place a lid on the saucepan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted down. Transfer the spinach to a liquidizer along with another splash of water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Make the green chilli pureé. Blend the green chillies with some water until smooth and add to the curry. Set aside.
  6. Check the lamb is cooked to your satisfaction. At this point, you can spoon off the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce (see below). Stir through the spinach puree and the rest of the spinach leaves. Add the green chilli puree and simmer and heat through for another 5 minutes.
  7. Stir through the garam masala and fresh coriander. Taste for seasoning, adding plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with rice and naan bread with some cooling yoghurt on the side, if you wish.

Serves 6.

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Chicken Saag

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 7/8

Indian Spices

Saag makes a really nice change from tomato-based curries, whether in a restaurant or cooking at home. The word “saag” typically refers to “greens” and not just spinach. In India, it would often comprise a mixture of spinach, mustard greens and fresh fenugreek leaves. Given the lack of availability of mustard greens and fresh fenugreek in Dublin, this interpretation uses spinach along with dried fenugreek (kasoori methi) for flavour.

As with most curry gravies, it is best to make the sauce in advance and allow it to cool. Then we can add our chicken and finish the sauce with the spinach. Simples.

Ingredients

  • 6 free-range chicken breast fillets (or use bone-in chicken thighs)
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 10 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 2 tsp of each of the following: ground cumin, red chilli flakes, ground coriander, garam masala
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamoms, lightly crushed
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 300g baby spinach leaves (or use regular spinach, stalks removed)
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • natural yoghurt, to serve

Method

  1. Combine the ground spices listed above and set aside. This is our “masala”.
  2. Place a deep cast-iron casserole (or large saucepan) on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  3. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger and tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Add a little water to loosen if necessary. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  4. Put the casserole back on the heat and add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole. Then add the ground spice masala, chicken stock and salt. Stir to combine and bring up to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer very gently for about 45 mins.
  5. The sauce is now done. At this point it is best to leave the sauce to cool for a few hours (or preferably overnight). This really develops the flavour of the gravy and allows the spices and onions to mellow. You can skip this step however – it will still taste great.
  6. Bring the gravy back up to a gentlest simmer and add the cubed chicken. Cook for about 20 minutes (45 minutes if you’re using chicken thighs. Just remember to verify the chicken is cooked before eating.)
  7. Rinse the spinach in cold water and add two thirds of it to another saucepan. Cover with a lid and cook over a high heat for a minute or two until the spinach is wilted. Transfer the spinach to a clean blender and puree.
  8. Transfer the puree to the curry and add the rest of the spinach leaves. Cook for a minute and stir through a handful of  chopped fresh coriander. Drizzle over some natural yoghurt before serving. This goes really well with chapattis and plain basmati rice.

Serves 6.

Rick Stein’s Lamb & Spinach Karahi

Indian Spices

This recipe is adapted from Rick Stein’s “Food Heroes” book and was given to him by Mumrez Khan when he visited Bradford’s Karachi Restaurant, when filming his TV series of the same name. I love the way the green chillies are added – they’re blitzed at the end with a little water and added to the curry, giving a delicious, fresh flavour.

Mumrez’s recipe specifies a heart-stopping 250g of ghee (!), which is an Indian clarified butter. I’ve used a more reasonable 150g here, with no resulting loss of flavour. I’ve also modified this recipe to use only 2-3 tbsp oil, which is a lot better for you. Check out my Lamb Saag recipe for details.

Note: You do have the option of skimming off some of the ghee at the end of cooking. The best way to achieve this is to leave the pot to stand at a slight angle for 15 minutes. That way, the ghee will collect at one side of the pot where it will be easy to skim off.

Ingredients

  • 150g ghee
  • 550g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 65g garlic, peeled (about 1 bulb/12-15 cloves)
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 200ml water
  • 900g boneless lamb (leg or shoulder), cut into large cubes
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: turmeric, red chilli powder, sweet paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 2-4 medium-sized green chillies, stalks removed
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Method

  1. Heat the ghee in a large cast-iron casserole. Cook the onions gently for about 20 minutes until soft and light brown in colour. Take the casserole off the heat.
  2. Blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  3. Return the mixture to the oil in the casserole and add the lamb and salt. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. The sauce will now be well-reduced.
  4. Stir through the ground spices and cook for a further 1½-2 hours. Add a little water every now and then if the sauce starts to stick.
  5. Just before the lamb is finished cooking, make the spinach puree. Put 150g of the spinach leaves in a large saucepan along with a splash of water. Place a lid on the saucepan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted down. Transfer the spinach to a liquidizer along with another splash of water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Make the chilli pureé. Blend the green chillies with some water until smooth and add to the curry. Set aside.
  7. Check the lamb is cooked to your satisfaction. At this point, you can spoon off the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce (see below). Stir through the spinach puree and the rest of the spinach leaves. Add the green chilli puree and simmer and heat through for another 10 minutes.
  8. Stir through the garam masala and fresh coriander. Taste for seasoning, adding plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with rice and naan bread with some cooling yoghurt on the side, if you wish.

Notes

  • The addition of pureéd spinach may seem bonkers, but it tastes really good and also lightens the dish somewhat. You could add the spinach directly to the curry without pureéing but you lose out on the excellent colour it gives the dish.
  • A note on cooking times: Rick’s recipe specifies 1½ hours total cooking time. I’ve found this does not give enough time to make the meat very tender, which is the way I like it. I cook this gently for 2-2½ hours which gives me the result I want. Next time I make this curry, I’m going to cook it in the oven – 160°C for 2½ hours should do it.
  • Finally, important for all curries (indeed, all stews and braises), this will taste immeasurably better on the second day after being left to stand overnight. This softens the flavour of the garlic, onion and spices and allows the curry to mellow. Do give this a try if you can – leave to stand overnight then prepare the spinach puree when you’re reheating the curry.

Variations

  • Add a 400g tin of cooked chickpeas to bulk this recipe out and give it some extra nutrition.
  • Adding a tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves gives this curry an extra dimension.
  • Omit the spinach leaves and use this as a “base” sauce, adding extra ingredients to make your favourite restaurant-style curry: lemon juice will give you a “Madras”. Adding lots of dried chillies, a little red wine vinegar and some cubes of cooked potato will produce a “Vindaloo”. Add a portion of tarka dal, sugar, lemon juice and some cubed pineapple to give you a “Dhansak”. And so on…

Serves 6.

Chana Masala

Chana Masala

It’s not often that I can be persuaded to go vegetarian, but if it involves chickpeas, I’m usually sold. This recipe is adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s fantastic book, “A Homemade Life“. I’ve changed the spicing to suit my own tastes and added some more fresh ingredients such as ginger green chili and mint. This is great served with naan bread and some poppadoms.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • piece of ginger, minced (about a tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 green chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 x 400g cans chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 5 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • baby spinach leaves, a few handfuls
  • fresh coriander
  • fresh mint
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the chopped onion and fry very gently until the onion is brown and completely caramelised.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and spices then fry for another two minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the tomatoes, green chili, sugar, chickpeas and tomato pureé then bring to the boil. Season with a little salt and reduce the heat. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
  4. Before serving, stir the yoghurt through and add the spinach and chopped fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning.

Serves 2-3.

Sausage & Lentils

Sausage & Lentils

Sausage & Lentils is a classic combination and offers a great way of using up ingredients in your fridge and store cupboard. The list of ingredients you see below is just an improvisation I did this evening, you can use so many combinations of vegetables and flavours in this dish. It really is versatile. You could add some peas, mushrooms or sweetcorn. You could replace the pancetta or leave it out altogether. You could replace the wholegrain mustard with some crushed fennel seeds or some Worcestershire sauce for extra flavour. You could use garlicky Toulouse sausages or spicy Genovese for a change. You could add also some grated Parmesan cheese. Just don’t use all of these things at the same time! 🙂

Of course, you could use dried puy lentils as they don’t take very long to cook, but I just find the canned green lentils incredibly handy. Very nutritious too.

Ingredients

  • pancetta, small piece chopped (or 6 rashers streaky bacon)
  • 6 good quality sausages
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g cans green lentils
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • salt & pepper
  • baby spinach leaves, a handful
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the pancetta or bacon and fry until golden and some of the fat has been rendered out. Remove the bacon and set aside.
  2. Add the sausages to the pan and fry until they’re golden. Remove the sausages and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, celery, garlic and rosemary and fry briskly until the vegetables are coloured nicely.
  4. Return the sausages to the pan and add the canned tomatoes, stock, mustard and lentils. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 8 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Stir through the spinach leaves and some chopped fresh parsley. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve.

Serves 2, generously.

Lesley-Anne’s “Lemony Pesto Potatoes”

The name of this dish is in quotes because you have to say “Lemony Pesto Potatoes” in a Scottish accent … 😉

Boil 1kg waxy potatoes, skins on. In a dish mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of good pesto and juice of 1 lemon. Slice finely 1 red onion. Wash 200g of fresh spinach. Once potatoes are cooked drain, return to the pot and lightly crush with a fork. Add the spinach, onion and pesto mixture to the potatoes and mix well until potatoes are coated. Put on pot lid for a few minutes until spinach has wilted.